Pregnancy didn’t ruin your body: 7 signs your postpartum body complaints are really diastasis recti symptoms.
“Oh my God, you don’t even look like a Mom!” the words popped out of her mouth the instant we hugged. It had been years since my friend and I had seen each other in person.
I know it shouldn’t have mattered so much. We would have had fun no matter what I looked like. But, hearing those words meant the world to me.
You see, I had a complicated relationship with my body during and after pregnancy. I didn’t like the sag, the love-hate relationship with my c-section scar was a constant battle, and you know what, I just wanted to enjoy having sex again.
So when I heard my friend say these words, after spending nearly a year reclaiming, healing and loving my body after birth, it meant the world. Not because of how I looked, but because of how I felt.
The truth is, most of the body complaints I experienced in birth and postpartum were not signs that pregnancy had ruined my body, but diastsis recti symptoms.
What is diastasis recti?
Diastasis recti is when the connective tissue between your abdominals weaken and everything stops working properly, sending a cascade of complications throughout your body.
An important note on this blog post
The suggestions below are not the end all be all when it comes to diastasis recti symptoms. If your body is in pain and your self-help practices are not helping, please speak with a physical therapist that specializes in helping pregnant or postpartum moms.
These are the symptoms and signs that personally affected my life. It is by no means a conclusive list of diastasis recti symptoms.
7 signs you are experiencing diastasis recti symptoms
1. People look at you and say “Congratulations! When are you due?” but you are 5 months postpartum.
A mommy tummy or a tummy that just doesn’t look the same after pregnancy is one of the easiest to identify diastasis recti symptoms. When your abs separate, they simply don’t hold things in the same place. Thus, even if the weight comes off, your organs may look like they have shifted forward, leaving you looking pregnant even if you are not.
2. Your baby bump feels huge and like it is hanging off of your body.
If you have had multiple pregnancies, it is common for the way you carry your baby to change every pregnancy. However, if you feel that your baby is tilting further away from your body, with the upper half of your baby even approaching horizontal, you are likely experiencing a diastasis recti symptom.
3. You feel a heaviness in your pelvic floor.
Another way of saying this is that your vagina simply aches or that you feel like you are carrying a ball between your legs. Your pelvic floor is an important part of your abdominal system. If your abs separate, it is possible for excess weight to rest on your pelvic floor. Talk to a pelvic floor physical therapist or try this 30 day pelvic floor challenge to see if you can bring these muscles back into functionality.
4. You pee when you sneeze.
Peeing when you sneeze or laugh is NOT a normal part of pregnancy. Yes, many women experience it, but you are by no means doomed to live with a pee squirt with every sneeze for the rest of your life. This is one level of severity up from feeling a heaviness in your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is an essential part of your core, and many times fixing your core will fix your pelvic floor discomfort as well.
5. It hurts when you have sex, in a way that it just didn’t before.
Your body is designed to have pleasurable sex. Painful penetration may be a sign that your organs have shifted around due to separated abs or pelvic floor prolapse. Both of which are things that can usually be fixed with care and attention. It’s easy to get down on your body if you are not able to enjoy and have fun like you used to. This is most often not a permanent change of pregnancy. Many women with diastasis recti report painful sex and find as they heal their diastasis, this symptom disappears.
6. Your low back aches. Like seriously, what gives with the constant pressure?
If your abs are separated, then your back often will try to compensate and do the job that your front side is supposed to do. Often strengthening your abdominals by focusing on diastasis recti repair will lessen or totally release your back pain.
7. You can actually feel a weird gap between your abs.
I’m not going to lie, I was totally freaked out when I noticed I could reach between my abdominals and almost into my guts. I mean, what was with that giant cavern of skin that just sunk into the rest of me when I laid on my back? If you can actually feel a gap between your abdominals, you know you have diastasis recti. Not sure? Learn how to test for it here.
What you need to know about diastasis recti symptoms and finding healing
Okay so you identified with some of the diastasis recti symptoms above? Now what?
It’s time to get to work and heal baby! Yes, there is something you can do about all of this!
After I had my second baby and experienced all of these diastasis recti symptoms, I tried many things to restore my body. Eventually, I ended up doing an exercise program called MuTu.
MuTu is the only medically recommended online exercise program for diastasis recti. 94% of women who used this system felt an improvement in how they felt about their body and what it is able to do. I am one of them!
If you want support, education and a daily exercise routine that will help you address your diastasis recti symptoms. I highly recommend them.
Another option is working with a physical therapist trained in working with postpartum women.
The most important step to healing diastasis recti symptoms
The most important part of healing is having faith that it is possible. Have compassion for your body the way it is now. Have gratitude for the journey your body has carried you through. Have courage to seek the next step, which is healing.